Small Business Advice: What Your Company can Learn from the Rise of Craft Beer

Unique brewing techniques, surprising ingredients and innovative products have unlocked an approach to beer that rivals the wine industry for classification. And as experiments succeed, brewers don’t hoard their secrets. Many smaller breweries build on loans and advice from larger peers. In fact, during a recent specialty hops shortage, Samuel Adams sold its supply to smaller competitors at cost.

So how can you implement this level of innovation and collaboration as strategies for growth in your business? Here are a few suggestions:

Don’t follow the big guys.

Giants like Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors are boxed into cost structures and product styles, while craft breweries are free to challenge the fundamental nature of beer.

Instead of focusing on the big corporations in your industry, use your size to your advantage and enjoy the freedoms that come with being small.

Highlight the “friendly” in friendly competition.

Small business owners can get bogged down in the details of their own enterprises, but it’s much more effective to develop a community that can offer advice, mentorship and the occasional adult beverage for commiseration or victory celebrations. Dismiss the misconception that others’ gain is your loss. With a healthy spirit of collaboration, multiple businesses can grow together in the same industry.

Don’t stop pushing your limits.

Craft brewers are experimenting with ingredients, fermentation processes, and even serving methods. Explore the edge of what is known about your product. Seek out opportunities to explore unique applications and different approaches to your business. Keep asking, “What’s next?”

Advocate for your industry.

Craft beer expansion is driven by brewers’ advocacy for their products and the market overall. Speak out for your industry and for your place in the market.

Do what you love.

You can create your own opportunity. If you love your business, the highs are higher and the lows are more manageable.

Of course, you will make mistakes, but be kind to yourself. “Malcolm Gladwell said it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert”. You have to invest that level of time to learn what works, but small-scale experiments are great opportunities to learn.

Look ahead.

Successful craft brewers pay close attention to how tastes are evolving. What worked last year might not get the same mileage next year. Consequently, the skills you have today are not the ones you’ll need tomorrow, so focus on growing capabilities to support your innovations.

Every industry has its own history and obstacles to overcome, but when you’re creative and collaborate with other businesses in your industry, you and your peers have a better opportunity to thrive. Collaboration and innovation are smart business strategies, and they can also make running a company way more fun — even if your product doesn’t call for taste tests.

I hope this article has encouraged you to do something you love no need of doing something new you can do experiment in your small business too. Virtual Office plans are perfect for home-based professionals, road warriors and others who don’t need or want a fixed downtown office. Visit:

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